Gay Fun in the First State
Rehoboth Beach, perhaps the least talked-about of the popular gay beach towns in the Northeast, has seen its share of changes in recent years but, at heart, it remains a quaint beach town, off the beaten path, with a vibrant gay scene.
HOW TO GET THERE
By air, the closest airport is in Salisbury, Maryland, about 45 miles away. Salisbury is serviced by USAir/AmericanAirlines with flights from Philadelphia and Charlotte, North Carolina. Once you arrive in Salisbury, you will need to rent a car or you can arrange for a shuttle or taxi.
Like most of the other gay beach towns along the East Coast, it’s not super easy to get to Rehoboth, but that’s part of the fun. Fly to Baltimore, D.C., or Philadelphia, and rent a car. It’s about a three-hour drive from any of those airports and a great way to unwind. Take some back roads through farm towns where you can stop and buy sweet corn, local tomatoes, and watermelon from dozens of roadside stands. A few words to the wise: don’t speed — local police rely on speedy tourists for revenue. They will give you a fine! Also, avoid weekend traffic; travel on Thursday and Monday. Since there are only a few ways to get there, traffic can be horrendous and backups last for miles when people come into town on Friday and leave on Sunday.
WHERE TO STAY
In Rehoboth there are several options for guests who are coming from out of town. There are a few beachfront hotels and any of the online booking sites will come up with a lot of options. Unlike some of the other beach towns that cater to our community, Rehoboth is a very family-friendly town as well, so expect gay-friendly, but also expect kids. For adults, there are also a few clothing-optional lodging options. Try the star of Rehoboth’s boardwalk, The Boardwalk Plaza Hotel. You could also try the Beach View Hotel or the Admiral on Baltimore. Both are just steps from the beach and the boardwalk. If you are looking for a rental house, they go quickly. Try Jack Lingo Realty, they are locals and know the ins and outs of the rental market. You might like it so much, you may decide to buy yourself a summer getaway.
WHERE TO PLAY
Poodle Beach: If you are expecting warm blue water like you find in Florida, think again. The ocean in Rehoboth stays cool through July, but in 2014 it was rated in the top five nationwide for water quality. The boys flock to Poodle Beach, the moniker for Rehoboth’s gay beach. Follow the boardwalk south to Queen St. and you can’t miss the “family” packed on the beach. To get the best spot, get there early, by mid-afternoon it gets really crowded.
Purple Parrot: This bar is a Rehoboth institution, located just up Rehoboth Ave. (the main street in town) from the boardwalk. They have great happy hour specials and feature a drag show every Sunday at 10 p.m., and karaoke other nights from 9 p.m. to 1 a.m. (134 Rehoboth Ave. ppgrill.com)
Blue Moon: A local fine dining favorite, Blue Moon features drag shows, Miss Richfield Sunday Brunch with requisite mimosa or Bloody Mary, and the dulcet sounds of Danielle Furst on the piano. This is a must-stop on your tour around town. Make a reservation for dinner or just stop in for a drink at the bar. It is one of the most popular nightlife spots in town. (35 Baltimore Ave., bluemoonrehoboth.com)
Zen Saigon: One of the newest restaurants in town. As a Delaware native, I can tell you that Vietnamese restaurants are new additions in the First State. Located just down the road in neighboring Dewey Beach, this gem features homemade Vietnamese classics like Pho, summer rolls, and other locally procured specials.
Henlopen City Oyster House: You can’t go anywhere this close to the Chesapeake Bay and not try seafood. The Henlopen City Oyster House will not disappoint. Try the single dip fried oysters, they are served with a side of homemade chicken salad. We always ate our oysters fried growing up. It sounds weird, but the saltiness of the oysters and the slightly sweet chicken salad are perfectly matched.
WHERE TO GO
The Boardwalk: Here are some must-haves. Thrasher’s French Fries is first, they’re hand-cut, flash-fried, then cooked to order; you won’t find any ketchup. Just salt and vinegar, potatoes’ best friends! You also have to try Dollies Saltwater Taffy, Fisher’s Popcorn, and Grotto Pizza. They are not only local favorites, they are delicious treats that you can work off as you stroll the boardwalk checking out the shirtless Delaware boys.
Cape Henlopen State Park: The beaches here are less crowded, there’s plenty of public parking, and it’s pet-friendly. What more can you ask for? They offer camping, surf fishing, and lots of other fun summer activities.
Outlet Shopping: Delaware is the home of tax-free shopping. NO SALES TAX! On Coastal Highway (Route 1), you will find several outlet malls with tons of bargains calling your name. From Nike to J. Crew and everything in between, if it’s a rainy day, haul your cookies to the outlets and get some great deals.
To find out more about Rehoboth Beach and all it has to offer, visit rehoboth.com.